South Downs trek in support of Gurkhas

100km endurance challenge across the South Downs with the Gurkhas SUS-150331-095530001
100km endurance challenge across the South Downs with the Gurkhas SUS-150331-095530001

Trailwalker is one of the UK’s biggest team challenges. The event sees thousands of people trek 100km through night and day to support Oxfam and The Gurkha Welfare Trust.

Originally held in Hong Kong, Trailwalker began life as a military training exercise for the Gurkhas. In 1986 Oxfam and The Gurkha Welfare Trust got involved, opening the challenge to the public. When the Gurkhas returned to the UK ten years later they brought Trailwalker with them, introducing the challenge to the South Downs National Park.

In 2015 the Gurkhas celebrate the 200th anniversary of service to the British Crown, so this year’s Trailwalker will be a celebration from start to finish. Gurkha food, music and dance will keep spirits high, as people take on this historic team endurance challenge.

The Gurkhas are still heavily involved in Trailwalker, with elite teams taking on the challenge and soldiers manning checkpoints along the course. Gurkha teams are yet to be beaten, having set the course record at an incredible 9 hours 50 minutes. The average finishing time for the 100km course is a much more realistic 27 hours.

Neil Howlin, who completed Trailwalker in 2014 as part of team Eager Eagles, said ‘I loved being part of something so big, organised and completely insane! Being alongside the Gurkhas made it feel really special, it was something that was a real privilege to take part in.’

Trailwalker is a unique test of physical and mental endurance, a real once-in-a-lifetime challenge. It has raised millions for Oxfam and The Gurkha Welfare Trust to help fight poverty worldwide.

Lousie Gebbett, Oxfam spokesperson said, “Trailwalker is an unforgettable experience. Every year we are so grateful to all of the teams who take on the challenge. It really is an event that brings out the very best of the human spirit and the money raised will change the lives of people living in poverty around the world”.

To sign up or for more information go to: www.oxfam.org.uk/trailwalker

Report and picture contributed by Oxfam.